North Sails LOFT NEWS
KIWI TEAM WIN THE JJ GILTINAN TROPHY
The Kiwi 18-foot skiff team aboard Honda Marine showed their class by defending their title in style
Skipper Dave McDiarmid, Brad Collins and North Sails expert Matt Steven won the prestigious event with a race to spare, showing the highly competitive Australians that their win in 2018 – the first victory by a Kiwi team in 44 years – was no fluke.
The Honda Marine team completed the regatta with a scoreline of five wins, two second placings and one fourth placing in the nine-race series. Two other Kiwi teams in the event also placed strongly, with Josh Porebski, Jack Simpson and Dave Hazard on ASCC finishing fourth overall, and C-Tech (Alex Vallings, Sam Trethaway and Matt Coutts) eighth out of 25 crews.
The Australian 18-foot skiff fleet was looking stronger than ever, with some past champions being brought out of retirement to try to wrest the trophy back from the Kiwis and some boats getting new rigs and sail wardrobes. However, Steven says the Honda Marine team went into the regatta well prepared, both physically and psychologically.
“We had a different mind-set this year, going in to defend the title. We knew that we would be targeted by the Australian teams, and that they would throw everything they could at us.”
The boat also had two new North 3Di jibs as well as a new gennaker (to replace one stolen after last year’s competition), but the team continued to use the 3Di mainsail they won with in 2018.
“We used that same sail for all our training and the racing both years, which shows the durability of 3Di,” says Steven. “We have done about 35 days’ sailing this season and it was still good enough for a big regatta like this.”
This year’s regatta was sailed mostly in light conditions of 5–12 knots, with the skiffs sailing under their number one rigs. Steven says despite the Honda Marine team favouring slightly stronger winds and their number two rig, they had worked hard to optimise their bigger rig set-up, which paid dividends in Sydney.
“You always go over there not really knowing how fast you’re going. Because it’s a development class, you never know if the Australians have come up with something new to give them an advantage. But they didn’t know how fast we would be, either.”
With victory — if not the actual JJ Giltinan Tropjy — in hand, debate has been reignited over whether Auckland could host the 2020 series.
“We really want to have the JJ regatta here,” says Steven. “For the class to keep growing and progressing we believe it should be shared around.”